Ujima/Collective Work & Responsibility: Day Three of Kwanzaa
A Celebration of Family, Community and the Common Good
Collective Work and Responsibility/Ujima To work in a cooperative manner to strengthen our families, understanding that the well-being of our families is connected to the well being of our neighborhoods; that everyone must be concern with the overall health of their family and neighborhood; and that the well-being of our families and that of our neighborhoods are bound together
Perspective on Collective Work and Responsibility
The principle collective work and responsibility is best captured in by the African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” This principle teaches that family members must recognize that their own well-being is derived from their family’s and community’s well being; and that they must be concern with the overall health of their family and community. In addition the principle instructs that the lives of each family member and that of the community are bound together, and that the success of any one their lives is an aspect of and dependent on the goodness and health of the community as a whole. And finally, there can be no private accounting of the success or failure of their individual lives one by one. The community and the families which make up the community are responsible for the success and failure of the community in its totality.
Focus: What Collective Work and Responsibility Day is about?
Collective Work and Responsibility Day focuses on activities which reinforce the principle Collective Work and Responsibility. Some activities may include, but are not mandatory:
- Review the Kwanzaa symbols Corn
- Make the celebration focus on your family
- Make the celebration festive and joyous
- Try to have a special meal- at home or away
Self-Determination Day Activities:
- Select a project and do it together as a family or community
- Take the initiative to help a family member, friend, or neighbor with a problems or issue.
- Do as many work activities as you can as a family
Hunting on the Plains
Mang’oka and Ngwatũ went hunting on the plain. After arriving, a fox ran into them. Mang’oka ran and climbed up a tree. Ngwatũ was fat, and before he could climb up a tree the fox jumped and caused him to fall down. He grabbed the fox and they started struggling until Ngwatũ fell down exhausted. All this time Mang’oka was just watching from the tree without coming to help. Ngwatũ was so tired, scratched, and hapless that finally the fox thought he was dead and left him.
Soon Ngwatũ got up and ran towards home, leaving his tobacco container where he had been struggling with the fox. Mang’oka, when he climbed down the tree, followed Ngwatũ and asked him, “Does the fox know you? Tell me what the fox told you before it left you sleeping.”
Ngwatũ answered him saying, “Go for my tobacco container where I was struggling with the fox, and call and struggle with it yourself so that you can know what the fox told me.”
Moral of the Story: This story offers much to consider. True friends don’t leave each other in the hour of need. Keeping in sound physical condition can be helpful for survival in the jungle. In addition, while Ngwatũ was trying to get back to his tobacco container, he also wanted his friend to learn from his experience.
Corn/Muhindi: Collective ownership of Children
Corn is a symbol which represents children. In African Culture, children are viewed as the responsibility of every adult. This parenting model places emphasis on the social ties as well as the biological times of children. Therefore, adults share in the responsibility of raising children.
Candle Lighting Activity
Candle Lighting: On the third day of Kwanzaa the family lights the green candle. This candle is symbolic of the prosperity and success. The placement and order of the Kwanzaa candles teach and reinforce valuable lessons for the family. The green candle is symbolic of the success of a person, family, school or community makes, based on their effort or work. Hence, the family or community celebrates the collective achievement of children and adults (the harvest).
The candle lighting activity presents one of the best moments for family members to assess their practice around “collective work and responsibility” and make a specific commitment to practice “collective work and responsibility” during the next year.
Note: Emphasize the positive in the assessment. Do not start with what has not been done. Reinforce and reward even partial achievement or success. Record your family commitments in a Kwanzaa journal.